Ardis who returned to the Perch inn, called out to Kashiha who was writing something, and told her that he will be leaving the inn at tomorrow noon.
「Eh? Ah……, alright……」
Kashiha who blinked for a few moments had round eyes but, she regained herself quickly and replied as if she’s sorry.
Ardis realized for the past few days, the gaze of the other customers mixed with something cloudy had been directed towards him. At the same time, Kashiha also seemed to have rethink her decision at the beginning, as she seemed to start having a troubled expression.
It seemed like it’s something not easy to speak of, as she always seemed to have something to tell Ardis.
Rumors of the twins probably have started spreading, is what Ardis inferred.
Since the twins had always been in the room, even meal will be brought up by Kashiha. They didn’t have contact with others most of the time, but it might that they were seen by other lodgers when they went to toilet.
Of course, Ardis had warned the twins to not come out of the room unneededly, and if they do, never go in a pair. Despite that, to have ignored Ardis’s warning, they must be unbearable to be separated from each other.
It’s not as if they asked Kashiha directly, but the gazes from the surrounding customers, residents and pedestrian, and the few sentences from the dialog Ardis heard from, it’s obvious that they have been talking bad about the inn.
Perch inn is a small inn. To have customers distance themselves because of such a rumor, it would take no time for the business to collapse, the procuring of food ingredients might become difficult too.
For Kashiha who stood in a difficult position for having invited the twins themselves into the inn, she couldn’t bring herself to chase them away herself. When Ardis announced they would be leaving the inn, it can’t be helped that she showed an expression of relief.
「Please prepare today’s dinner and tomorrow’s breakfast. And, a bath before dinner. 」
「Got it. I will bring it to you later. …………Sorry about this. 」
「Don’t mind it. Rather than that, sorry for causing troubles for you. 」
One of the reasons that Ardis ended the hunt with Gresch’s party is also because of this. It stopped at the level of being a rumor now, but if Ardis kept ignoring it, then it would definitely develop into something more troublesome.
That is why, Ardis had taken quick measures to get his own house and leave the inn.
(Thanks to that, almost all I saved flew away)
The gold coins that Ardis have earned for the past few days too, have already reached the bottom.
To be honest, if it was just Ardis alone, then a single cheap room would be more than enough. But thinking that the twins would left behind in the room, it would be worrying if it’s a place with other lodgers and unsafe.
If it’s a house that Ardis owns himself, then there’s no worry that the twins will meet anyone else even if they went out of the building. It was a big expenditure but, if he can leave the house without worrying, then he can get better rewarding jobs.
The next day, Ardis took a nap until noon in the room as he finished breakfast, then he left together with the twins after having them wear the child-sized robe he bought.
Heading towards the Merchant Association that handled his house, Ardis collected the keys before heading for the new sleeping place. On the way, he bought lunch from a street stall.
The twins had never uttered a single complaint but followed behind Ardis quietly. Thanks to the hood covering until their eyes, they weren’t discovered as twins by the people around.
Matching the pace of the two children, Ardis proceeded further for about half an hour. It’s a house sized average for the town of Thoria. With two storeys and a total of six rooms, but it’s still too large for Ardis and the twins.
However, with the house surrounded with tall fences, far from the slums and situated near a guardhouse. With all these safety aspects in mind, it couldn’t be helped even if there are a few matters that didn’t match Ardis’s hope.
After bringing the twins into their new home, Ardis discussed about the future with them both.
「Here is our home from today onwards. Different than the inn we stayed till this morning, there aren’t others beside us three here, it’s fine that the both of you walk around here in this building from today. For now, when you both go outside, it’ll be with my company. I don’t mind if it’s in the house but, be careful that the both of you don’t be outside at the same time. 」
As usual, the twins never replied. When he spoke, their eyes would state at Ardis unmovingly, and when he’s done, they would nod. They were properly having communication but, it seems that the twins have not had their guard lowered. The occasion the twins spoke was rare.
For around three whole days, Ardis have been working at it to improve the living environment in the house.
Bed for himself and the twins, the cookware for kitchen, table and chairs for dining, and other various necessity items have been bought from the Merchant Association or the market, and carried into the house.
It was different than the fixed bed and furniture found in inns. For Ardis who have no intention to stay in this house permanently, it’s his honest opinion to not spend so much money on it. However, he didn’t want the twins to be living in a bad environment as well.
Since it’s an amount easily earnable for Ardis, he didn’t mind his fortune and went ahead buying all the needed items.
「Listen, I won’t be coming back every day like usual. I might not be around for a few days even when I work. I will buy enough food that can last a few days. Basically, I have prepared various things so that you two won’t have to go out. So, learn to care for yourselves when I’m not here. 」
That aside, he didn’t want the young twins to be living in a bad environment.
And for the next five days, Ardis taught the twins how to start fire, preparing bath, getting water from the well, and various basic cooking methods. Finally, Ardis could return to his mercenary life without worrying too much.
The first three days he returned every day, and after that, a whole day of not returning, staying overnight outside, and the time Ardis spent outside became longer.
Fortunately, the twins are quick learners, taking care of themselves aren’t problem for them anymore.
Normally, children of their age would get unrest and lonely when an adult isn’t around but, it might be the environment that they have been till now, there weren’t a single trace of that. Rather than that, it seemed that the twins became more docile.
There weren’t any complaints from them, so Ardis have been feeling strange at how well it had gone so far. The usual on the occasion when Ardis do return, the twins were quiet. But it’s slightly better than before in that they will affirm and disagree a little with 「Unn」and 「Nnn」
They have their meal on the same table but, it’s still the same that they wouldn’t touch their food unless Ardis started. The bed that Ardis have bought with much effort doesn’t seem like it had been used once either. They seemed to have slept together just with a blanket in the corner of the room.
(I guess there’s no way other than taking it slowly huh)
Ardis don’t have the capability to keep looking after them all day nor the intention to do so. But looking for someone that will take care of them, is what Ardis plans to do at the very least on the side while he did his mercenary jobs.
For him who have so much grace that he couldn’t repay, if he couldn’t do that much, he wouldn’t have face to meet with his past comrades.
「Then I will be going. The schedule to return will be two days later. I have bought the food ingredients like usual enough to last five days. 」
While the platinum blonde hair swayed, the twins nodded at the same time. It’s a short reply, but it’s much better than the past. While thinking about such thing, Ardis left the house.
Without the must to return by the day, Ardis had more freedom when he chooses requests to take. It’s now possible for him to accept escort or investigation request as long as it isn’t for an extended period, and also, he can venture further out for just hunting as well.
Rather than hunting in the grasslands near the town, hunting 『Hound』or 『Whips』in the Corsas Forest is much earning. Thanks to that, the problem of his pouch which have become bare to the bottom have been solved within half a month.
「And so, can you finally lend a hand to us now? 」
A swordsman with a tough look asked Ardis enthusiastically.
「Ted, Ardis is drawing away. If you try to persuade him with such villainous look, he would escape you know. 」
On Orphellia words, Ted withdrew his distance from Ardis with an irritated expression.
「Cruel, Orphellia. I’m trying to catch a new party member, isn’t 『Villanous look』 too much? 」
「Ahaha. But it’s the truth. With Ted and Ardis, from an outsider perspective, it totally looks like a bad guy is taking it out on a young man. 」
Norris laughed out loudly.
「Tch, I’m not convinced……. Well, that aside, Ardis. You, got any request now? 」
「No, not really any now. 」
「Is that so, then good timing. Hear me out a bit. 」
While saying like this, Ted who brought Ardis to the bar, took a seat at the nearest table and ordered beer immediately.
「Hey, Ted. We have a job after this! 」
「Isn’t it fine, Orphellia. It’s just one mug. With this much, it’s not enough to make me drunk even a little. 」
「In the first place, it can’t be helped. Taking a seat without ordering anything will be rude. And there isn’t any place else to sit down and talk slowly. 」
「If that’s the case, then there are fruit juice or light meals you can order right! 」
「Ahaha. She’s got a point there, Ted. 」
「Keh! Isn’t it fine, it’s just for livening the conversation. Right, Ardis? 」
「Rather than that, what is it? 」
Don’t ask for my affirmation for something like that, with an annoyed look, Ardis seemed to convey that.
「Even you, don’t be so cold. 」
As he complained lightly, Ted changed his attitude and talked to Ardis.
「It’s about the request that Norris took yesterday――」
According to Ted who have explained straight to the point, the request is a search and rescue operation. The search target is a Mariulees Academy’s student that came from the capital.
「Mariulees Academy? 」
「It’s an academy in the capital for finding and raising talents it seems. 」
Norris answered Ardis’s question.
「Fu―n, so it’s some nobles little boy or miss? 」
「That is for the Royal Academy. Mariulees Academy is one that even commoners can admit, so the nobles there are less. 」
「And, what happened to the students? 」
「Un. Well, it’s a common story. The academy teaches combat techniques and magic in their curriculum. And every year, there is sure to be some overconfident brats that take reckless action. 」
「By reckless action? 」
「Without even a single escort, the students themselves venture out into the dangerous wilderness, thinking to fight monsters by themselves. 」
「Are they idiots? 」
「Ahaha. That was too straight, Ardis. I feel that way too though. 」
「In other words, to find that group of idiots and bring them back? 」
「In simple terms. Yes. 」
Norris’s explanation is further added on by Orphellia.
「The request we took this time, it’s to find the students that haven’t return in the due period. Location is at Corsas Forest. They are supposed to return in four days but, since they didn’t return even after the night falls, that’s why this request came. 」
「Isn’t it too late, is what you’re showing on your face, right? 」
Norris who read Ardis’s expression cut into the conversation.
「In all places, why Corsas Forest? Isn’t there many other suitable places around the capital? 」
Corsas Forest is a dangerous place that even a seasoned mercenary will get taken out if he’s careless. Needless to say, it isn’t a naïve place for new leaves, students that don’t even have any live combat experience to enter and leave without anything happening.
「They were probably pushing their pride. They didn’t even enter from the capital side, but came all the way to Thoria before heading in. 」
「Haa? They went in from Thoria? 」
「That’s why it’s a request not from the capital but here. Searching from this side will be faster from the capital side. 」
Simply speaking, Corsas Forest have a wide footprint. The danger levels changes depending on where in the forest.
There’re various kinds of beasts and demonic beings lurking around in the forest, but, to a certain extent, their habitat has been mapped out. Like the dangerous 『Whips』 that are even avoided by veteran mercenaries, they live mostly in the Thoria side, and rarely seen in the capital side which is the southwest side of the forest.
Because of that, even if it’s the same Corsas Forest, the danger levels at Thoria side is much higher compared to the capital side.
『Twin Swords』and 『Clouds』are what usually appears in the capital side, they are mostly beasts and demonic beings that a seasoned mercenary can take care of with no problems.
Of course, saying that it is less dangerous, that is just a figure when you compare the both. They aren’t opponents that merely students can take on and win unscathed.
What a clear act of stupidity. Ardis felt dizzy at the action that can’t even be passed away with 『Hot-headed youthfulness』 or 『Not planning ahead』.
「Well, I can understand what Ardis think somehow but. This is also a request. If it is too late, then confirming their life or dead and retrieving their remains is the condition of the request. 」
From what Ted thinks, the students are probably beyond hope to save.
「It would just be passed as reaping the seeds they sow originally, but since the request is funded by the academy and even the lord, the compensation is quite the big figure. 」
From what the tough-looking man said, successfully rescuing the students is hundred fifty gold coins. If it’s too late, even confirming their deaths and retrieving the remains will fetch thirty gold coins. For searching the students without name in the society, it’s a compensation on the big side.
From Norris’s prediction, 「Wouldn’t there be some powerful noble’s children amongst them? 」. Certainly, if that’s the case, that explains why the request was issued so quickly and with such a high compensation.
Normally, for a mercenary to not return within the expected time, a search and rescue request wouldn’t be issued that quickly. Even more, to issue out a request on the night of the fourth day that they are supposed to return, there shouldn’t be any mercenary exist that are treated like that.
「So, Ardis? I would be really glad if you would come together. As expected, even for us, it will be cold sweat if we were to encounter Whips while carrying baggage. 」
「I guess so………Nn. I have planned for the forest in the first place, so I will be participating in it this time. But, is it fine that I return to my house before that? 」
「Nn? House? 」
Ted’s head tilted.
「Yeah, I ended up getting a house. They would catch people eyes in the inn after all. Since it looks like it’s brewing all kinds of trouble, I signed a year contract for the house. I told them both that I will be back in two days, so I have to tell that my schedule is changed. And I have to buy more food supplies for that too. 」
「What. If that’s the case, then talking at Ardis’s house in the first place would’ve been good. Then I won’t have to spend money uselessly. 」
「After drinking the beer like it’s the best, saying it’s spent uselessly isn’t really convincing at all. 」
My house doesn’t have any liquor, as Ardis patted Ted’s shoulders lightly, he left the bar and headed to his house.